The Charlotte Observer

December 14, 1995

Incentives lure sugar processor to York County over Huntersville

Taylor Batten, Staff Writer

Copyright © 1995, The Charlotte Observer

South Carolina's ability to offer generous financial incentives helped it top Huntersville's bid for a $62.5 million plant planned by a German sugar processor, officials from both states say.

Sudzucker negotiated extensively with the Mecklenburg town, 15 miles north of Charlotte, before deciding to build its first North American plant on I-77 south of U.S. 21 near Rock Hill.

The incentive package is still being negotiated. But Sudzucker, with annual sales of $4.2 billion, is getting infrastructure improvements paid for by the state and county. It is locating in an enterprise zone, which will cut its income taxes. And it is receiving a break on its property taxes.

``They told me we had the best site,'' Huntersville Mayor Randy Quillen said. ``But North Carolina and Huntersville were not going to buy Sudzucker. We could have done more if we weren't so adamantly against buying a company to come to town.''

Added Terry Orell, the Charlotte Chamber's top recruiter: ``I think it definitely was incentive-driven. We got quite creative and gave it everything we could. They had a better financial offer in South Carolina, and having done all that, the good news is at least we retained the business in the Charlotte area.''

Sudzucker officials were flying from New York to Germany Wednesday and could not be reached for comment. But the company said earlier that a trained labor force and proximity to highways and railroads were important factors in selecting York County.

``South Carolina has the ability to structure a definitive incentive package. I understand there are a lot of questions about the incentive packages North Carolina can offer, and we don't have that same cloud hanging over us,'' said Mark Farris, director of the York County Economic Development Board. ``With Sudzucker the incentives will be substantial, but that ranks below other factors.''

The plant, situated on 22 acres at Firetower Road, will employ about 40 workers with average pay topping $15 per hour. The plant will annually produce 20,000 tons of Isomalt, a sweetener made from sugar used in ice cream and candy.

The company will break ground in mid-1996 and be operating a year and a half later, said Carl Gullick, York County Council chairman.

``Incentives are going to be involved, but I never heard that was the sole issue, or even that it was the biggest,'' Gullick said.

Earlier this year, electronics manufacturer AMP and retailer Wal-Mart chose S.C. sites over North Carolina. AMP chose York County, while Wal-Mart selected Chesterfield County.

Sudzucker also considered sites in Florida, Georgia, Minnesota and the Dakotas.

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Copyright © 1995, The Charlotte Observer.

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